Food Cravings got you down? 3 Ways to Jumpstart a Happy and Healthy 2016!
Are you feeling guilty about overindulging in rich food and beverages over the holiday season? Perhaps you have a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, get in shape, or just eat “healthier.” If this sounds like you, then you are not alone! As a Registered Dietitian I work with clients on these types of goals all year long, but I definitely notice an increase in these goals during the months of January and February!
While there is nothing wrong with using the New Year as motivation to improve your health, I have a few words of advice (and caution) to share when trying to change your behaviour around food cravings:
- Ditch the “all or nothing” thinking.This is the main reason I am wary about using the New Year as a fresh start and motivator to lead a healthier life. We tend to try to do things perfectly, so when we set New Year’s resolutions, we aim big! Have you set goals like eliminating “junk food” entirely or going to the gym every single day? When we aim for perfection, we set ourselves up for failure. Imagine setting a goal of achieving 100% on your math test and then being upset when you get 95%….that is all or nothing thinking. Instead of aiming to eat perfectly healthy all of the time, try to follow the 80/20 rule. Stick to your healthy eating habits 80% of the time and allow a treat, guilt-free, 20% of the time. Food cravings happen to everybody, and often, feeling guilty leads to eating more treats, and then putting off healthy eating goals until the next day, week, or even next year until we can be perfect. It is a viscous cycle. Allow treats, don’t let yourself feel deprived, and don’t beat yourself up! If you have a cookie, that’s ok, just enjoy the cookie and move on. Maybe add five or ten minutes to your walk tomorrow. If you feel guilty and decide to wait until you can be perfect, one or two cookies may turn into ten.
- Set realistic goals that are action oriented.If you have a goal to lose weight, translate that into what action you are going to take to lose weight. Maybe you will go for a walk three times per week and aim to eat out at restaurants no more than two times per week. Perhaps you may aim to have veggies at both lunch and dinner and a fruit at breakfast. See how specific these goals are? Food cravings are usually specific, our goals should be too!
- Aim low and go slow.It is much easier to achieve them when you know exactly what you are going to do. Be specific, and start with a goal that you are at least 70% sure that you can achieve. Remember you can always set another goal once you achieve the first one. Perhaps once you are regularly walking three days per week you could set a new goal to aim for four days per week. If we set goals that are unrealistic and we don’t meet them, we feel discouraged. If we set small realistic goals that we can achieve and build on, we feel motivated. Sounds simple I know, but try it!
I find that when it comes to improving our eating habits, it often comes down to strategies like these. It is not just about knowing exactly WHAT to eat (or in the case of food cravings, what not to eat). These are also lifelong skills that we can use in many aspects of our lives besides healthy eating and exercise.
Starting January 13, 2016 I am running a workshop called Craving Change that is all about exploring the reasons WHY we eat and developing strategies and eating habits to cope with food cravings that come from reasons other than hunger such as stress, boredom or emotions. If this workshop interests you, contact me for more details or you can register online right now. Let’s start a happy and healthy new year together!
– Katie Huston, RD